Unfound Millions

My diligent ancestors
built a farm out of the wilderness
back when central Illinois
was wilderness.

At the time there was no
nearby town
so they were not
on the first Illinois maps.

My not-diligent ancestor
drank too much whiskey
every day of his life
and did foolish things while inebriated.

He once drove a team of horses
into the root cellar
mistaking its open doors
for horse barn.

All the horses died.
The fact he did not die that day
was a firm indication of the depth
of great grandmother’s Christian devotion.

If my not-diligent ancestor
had been born back
when there was no town nearby
whiskey would not have been available.

I never understood my diligent ancestors
where family history explained
that my not-diligent ancestor
always had money for whiskey and cigarettes.

Back in his life span
cigarette packs had baseball cards.
I searched musty boxes for days
seeking Honus Wagner and Cy Young.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

The Likes of Moonlight Graham

A row of silent
baseball cards
placed face up
looked at the ceiling
from a table
where they were sorted
alphabetically.

It was a special collection
of baseball players
with only one stat-line
in the baseball encyclopedia.

Unknown to most people—
even those who study
baseball history.
Some with only one
plate appearance.
Others with less than
an inning pitched.

They all made
the Majors

—briefly—

so it was impossible
to consider them
losers or failures
or unaccomplished.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Enumeration

The sleepless moon
flings itself across the sky.

Bankrupt cottonwoods
shed their leaves to pay their Spring debts.

Winding a clock backwards
fails to make me any younger.

Nor does it allow me a do-over
on my blunders.

Accumulated disappointments
rest in a warehouse awaiting distribution.

So many folks discount kindness
my retail shop goes under.

Some starlight hits the atmosphere wrong
and falls to earth broken.

I never wish to calculate love
or print love’s version of baseball cards.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney